“AMINO was installed, but before returning inside the ISS the astronauts discovered a problem with the power supply to the Expose-R module that houses the experiment,” explains Hervé Cottin from the LISA* inter-university laboratory for the study of atmospheric systems in Créteil.
“It was therefore decided at the last minute to dismount the experiment and take it back inside the station.” This was not the sort of Christmas present the science team working tirelessly on the experiment for years had been hoping for.
But the astronauts eventually succeeded in identifying and repairing the problem.
“The ISS crew expects to try again shortly,” assures Hervé Cottin. “AMINO and the other experiments inside the Expose-R module should then begin their long one-and-a-half-year exposure to the harsh conditions in the vacuum of space.”
Comprendre l’origine de la vie
The principle of AMINO is to expose organic molecules to solar radiation so we can better understand the surface or atmospheric chemistry of other objects in the solar system, like comets, meteorites, Mars and Saturn's satellite Titan.
AMINO will also study the effect of solar radiation on strands of RNA**. These experiments will inform research in exobiology, which aims to understand the origins of life on Earth and establish whether it could have appeared elsewhere.
** Ribonucleic acid, the underlying molecule of DNA
- AMINO to probe the origins of life - 26 November 2008